A few friends and I signed up for the voluntary Covid-19 ‘Brand-A’ vaccinations. Our vaccination slots were only a day apart, so we decided to create a chatgroup to support one another in this process. Days before the appointment, four of my friends started to get quite nervous, having read about the side effects and a death case seemingly due to the vaccine.
They expressed their fears freely – “I have high-blood pressure and diabetes, what if this is not suitable for me?”, “Are you sure it is safe… maybe I should not go?”, “I think I will live longer if I do not get the vaccine!”. Some of these thoughts ran through my mind as well but I thought, “If it is my time to go, then I should accept it. My past kamma may be out of my control, but I am able to make the right choice in the present moment.
I tried to calm them, but not by directly referring to the Buddha’s teachings because they were of other faiths. I pointed out the positive aspects of taking the vaccine, and that millions around the world had already received them safely. In contrast, the number of people infected and dying from Covid-19 is much higher than those negatively impacted by the vaccine.
When their doubts were not allayed, I stated that their fears were unchecked due to negative thoughts which were proliferating and baseless. If we keep doubting our actions made with the best of intentions, we will never come to make good decisions. Finally, if it was our time to depart, we will not have regrets because we have given our best effort; our conscience would be clear.
All of us showed up for our appointments. The long queues and waiting were forgotten when we saw the hundreds of volunteers, doctors and nurses efficiently serving each person, providing their advice repeatedly, and patiently answering questions they had heard numerous times before. The short period of body aches and fever was overshadowed by the gratitude we felt for them. I even signed up to be a non-medical volunteer.
Our gratitude goes out to all the front-liners including the healthcare workers, police, RELA and volunteers who brave long hours and face the thousands of anxious Malaysians every day. Your work and compassion make a difference in the lives of many. Let us help our dear front-liners by complying with the SOPs, as we work together to keep infection rates low, and the hospitals available for those who are in need. May you be well and safe.